Crossrail Bill (Carry Over)

– in the House of Commons at 2:01 pm on 7th April 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State, Department for Transport 2:01 pm, 7th April 2005

I beg to move,

That further proceedings on the Crossrail Bill shall be suspended until the next Session of Parliament.

That if a Bill is presented in the next Session in the same terms as the Crossrail Bill when it was presented in this Session—

(a) the Bill shall be ordered to be printed and shall be deemed to have been read the first time; and

(b) the Standing Orders of the House applicable to the Bill, so far as complied with or dispensed with in this Session, shall be deemed to have been complied with or (as the case may be) dispensed with in the next Session;

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.

I believe that people realise that Crossrail is a project of national, not only regional, significance. The strategic transport improvements that it brings will be experienced across the country and the scheme will be a catalyst for safeguarding a national economy that is strongly related to the performance of our capital city.

Today, I simply wish to dwell on the parliamentary procedures of the carry-over motion rather than the detail and substance of the Bill. However, I shall say a few more introductory words. In transport benefits, Crossrail will enable better access to the capital for the hundreds of thousands of workers who commute into London every day. It will provide strategic interchanges for local, national and international business and leisure travellers. In economic benefits, London plays a major role in supporting regional economies and jobs, through commuting, product and service purchases, fiscal transfer and economic activity.

The Bill was introduced on 22 February, and has subsequently been through several essentially procedural steps. When the Bill was deposited, it was supported by a regulatory impact assessment, a race equality impact assessment, a book of reference, an estimate of costs, an environmental statement and a non-technical summary of that statement, parliamentary plans and sections, a European Court of Human Rights statement, a housing statement and explanatory notes. Some 4,600 landowners notices were served and approximately 400 street and footpath notices were put up. The environmental statement comprises some 3,700 pages and nine volumes and is supported by a further 14,000 pages of specialist technical reports. The book of reference contains more than 5,000 entries, which would need to be re-checked if the Bill had to be deposited again because the book of reference must be no more than 28 days old at the time of deposit.

The scheme as defined by the Bill, including the parliamentary plans and sections, a schedule of works and so on, represents the culmination of the best part of four years of work by Cross London Rail Links, which employs around 100 staff and 90 consultants. For those who are interested in such data, around 14 tonnes of material were distributed to 140 different locations to meet the requirements of Standing Orders, which include ensuring that documents are available for public inspection locally. Notices were also published to advertise the introduction of the Bill twice in the weeks of 21 February and 28 February in The Times, Evening Standard and 18 local newspapers along the route.

The Bill was deposited and secured its First Reading, during which the whole route was safeguarded. Subsequently, because it had already been consulted on but was not part of the final declared route, the Abbeywood to Ebbsfleet route was also safeguarded. On 10 March, examiners—Clerks of the House who check compliance with Standing Orders—looked at the Bill, took evidence that notices had been served, documents deposited and advertisements made. They received no objections but they reported that the Bill had failed to meet Standing Orders relating to the time of deposit and notices.

On 17 March, the Commons Standing Orders Committee met to consider the examiners' report and hear from the Government's agent why it was desirable, especially to minimise the period of uncertainty for those affected by the works, for the Bill to proceed as soon as possible despite the fact that it had not fulfilled the Standing Orders. The Committee decided to dispense with Standing Orders on timing, thus allowing the Bill to proceed. A similar procedure was undertaken in the other place by its Standing Orders Committee on 22 March.

The purpose of the motion is simply to ensure that the Bill can be carried over for consideration in the next Parliament and that all the work that I have described and that has been done thus far is not wasted. Carrying a Bill over an election is feasible and, indeed, precedented for a hybrid Bill. There will be no curtailing of appropriate scrutiny. There will be the usual opportunities for hon. Members to debate the principle of the Bill on Second Reading, and for their constituents to be heard in front of a Select Committee composed of hon. Members of this House, and subsequently in a Select Committee of the other place. The Select Committee will sit in a quasi-judicial capacity and have the opportunity to hear a range of submissions in considering petitions against the Bill.

If the Bill is not carried over, despite the cross-party support and that of the overwhelming majority of the business community in London, which has been vocal and forthcoming in its backing for the project, we would have to redo all that I described—for example, serving approximately 5,000 landowners with notices, advertising in the press and updating all the documents required at the time of deposit, thus doing again all the referencing to check everything that is entailed. Whatever people feel about the merits of the project, I do not believe that anyone is especially wedded to the notion that, purely because of the interruption—for want of a better word—of an election, the Bill should not be carried over and presented for Second Reading at the earliest opportunity. Several people are directly affected by the Bill and it would not be good public policy to make them undergo all those processes again and suffer the subsequent uncertainty.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

The Minister knows that I support the Bill and the carry-over motion. Can he offer us some hope that the Bill will be introduced quickly in the new Parliament?

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State, Department for Transport

That point is central to carrying over a Bill. It will be reintroduced at the earliest opportunity after the interruption of an election. I hope that I can say that with confidence, given the support throughout the House for the measure. I shall be candid and say that, of course, there is the little matter of the £10 billion price tag that comes with it, and a good deal of continuing work needs to be done to ascertain how the costs will be apportioned, but I assure my hon. Friend that we fully intend to present the Bill for its Second Reading and subsequent stages at the earliest opportunity. Given all the momentum and the widespread support that the project commands in London and beyond, in both Houses and the business community, and, not least, the impact on those who could be affected by the process, the sooner we move, post election, to Second Reading, the better.

Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South

My hon. Friend mentioned those who will be affected. Three stations and the loop will be affected in my constituency. Clearly, I have many constituents who will be subjected to some uncertainties if there are undue delays. I therefore urge my hon. Friend not only to press for Second Reading as soon as possible, but to expedite the whole process so that there is no undue delay and uncertainty for my constituents.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State, Department for Transport

I can give my hon. Friend Mike Gapes the same assurance that I gave to my hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn: we fully intend to bring the Bill back as early as possible, should the interruption to which I referred have the outcome that we anticipate. Even if it does not, however, I am confident that whichever party forms the next Government will seek to bring these measures forward, because everyone has said that they understand the importance of the project for the capital and for the capital's contribution to the wider national economy. So, for the reasons that I have outlined, I commend the order to the House.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 2:10 pm, 7th April 2005

I am grateful to the Minister for introducing the motion in the way he has. He used rose-tinted language designed to give the impression that the Government were engaged in frenetic activity on the Crossrail project. He even used the expression "secure the First Reading", as though that were a really burdensome hurdle to overcome, when we all know that it is the most formal part of parliamentary procedure.

The reality of the Bill and the carry-over motion before us is best encapsulated in a short piece in today's Evening Standard under the by-line of Ross Lydall, its local government correspondent. It says:

"One of the scheme's main backers has revealed growing frustration with the lack of progress and Government cash. Bob Kiley, London's transport commissioner, said: 'We are where we have always been from the beginning, which is nowhere.' Crossrail dates from 1989 and would involve digging a twin-bore tunnel between Paddington and Whitechapel, with new stations along Oxford Street. It remains a project that everybody wants but no government will pay for. Mr. Kiley said Crossrail was costed at £10.2 billion in 2002"— which the Minister mentioned again today—

"but since then construction costs had risen two-and-a-half times faster than inflation."

It is salutary to remind ourselves that the last time the House carried over a hybrid Bill from one Parliament to another was when we were dealing with the Channel Tunnel Bill, another project that was not exactly renowned for its sound financial footing.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

I think that the Member has been misled. The last Bill to be carried over was the obnoxious City of London (Ward Elections) Bill, which we did so much to try to defeat. Will he give us some idea of his proposals for Crossrail? If we do not carry over the Bill, we shall have no project. The Bill is the basis of the project. I was hoping that he was going to say that he supported the carry-over and the expenditure on the development of Crossrail. Perhaps he could get to the point.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

On the hon. Gentleman's first point, he is right to say that the last Bill to be carried over was the City of London (Ward Elections) Bill, but that was a private Bill, not a hybrid Bill. The point that I was making was that this would the first hybrid Bill to be carried over since the Channel Tunnel Bill. The hon. Gentleman also asked me to make a commitment to the Crossrail project, but no serious prospective Government—such as we are—would be prepared to write a blank cheque for any project, however desirable people might think it is. If the hon. Gentleman is seeking a blank cheque from me today for the Crossrail project, I am afraid that he is going to be disappointed, just as he will have been disappointed by the failure of his own Government to provide one. The Minister talked about this being a £10 billion project, but we know that it is already projected to be much more expensive.

We are not against the principle of a carry-over, because the whole essence of Conservative party policy is to ensure that we get good value for money. After all the work that has been done on the technical documentation, there would be no point in having to get it all replicated just for the sake of it. However, we must face up to the reality that the Bill has not yet been debated in the House. It was brought in at the tail end of this Government's term of office, and what the Minister has said cannot be regarded as a substitute for activity. There has been a notorious lack of activity by the Government in relation to this issue.

Photo of Ms Jane Griffiths Ms Jane Griffiths Labour, Reading East 2:14 pm, 7th April 2005

I was a candidate for parliamentary election in 1996. As a resident of Reading, I was angry and upset when a Bill dealing with the previous version of Crossrail failed. It fell for procedural reasons that we all understand. As a candidate, however, I was quite joyful at the opportunity that that presented. I would suggest to hon. Members who will be seeking re-election in the coming weeks—not including myself—that matters that cause them grief could also cause them joy as a candidate.

Since my election in 1997, I have spoken up for Crossrail, and for Reading to be its western terminus, at every opportunity. So the publication and First Reading of the Crossrail Bill in February were very welcome, and I strongly support this motion, which would allow it to be carried over into the next Parliament. Of course I am sorry that I will not be here to carry on the fight for Crossrail, and for it to come to Reading, but I hope that the people of Reading and Woodley, in my constituency, will keep up the pressure to make sure that whichever man replaces me continues to work for Crossrail, and that it comes to Reading.

I would like to pay tribute to my hon. Friend Linda Perham for her persistence in fighting for Crossrail, and for her work towards making the scheme happen, and to other hon. Members who represent constituencies on the fringe of London and just beyond.

While I am happy to support this motion to allow the scheme to go forward, I remain unhappy that Maidenhead is Crossrail's proposed western terminus. Since that decision was announced, I have talked to numerous people, organisations and industry bodies, and no one can understand it. One argument is that it would cost £300 million to electrify the stretch of track between Maidenhead and Reading, but that would be negligible given the estimated cost of £10 billion for the scheme. It has also been said that Cross London Rail Links Ltd was worried that it would be left with the cost of re-signalling Reading station, yet talks with representatives of Network Rail reveal that the scheme is in the budget for before the date of completion of Crossrail. The money is there, and the only money that Crossrail would be expected to pay would be for anything extra needed solely for Crossrail.

It has also been said that Crossrail is not coming to Reading because the company is worried about being left with the cost of upgrading Reading station. Yet a recent answer from the Minister of State, Department for Transport, my hon. Friend Mr. McNulty, stated:

"The Strategic Rail Authority has considered possible upgrade options for Reading station, but is not in a position to undertake further development of this scheme within its currently funded investment programme."—[Hansard, 12 January 2005; Vol. 429, c. 575W.]

So there is nothing for Crossrail to worry about on that score.

I am bewildered as to the real reason for Crossrail not going to Reading. I fail to understand why it is not in the interest of the scheme to gain access to the interchange at Reading, feeding into services to the midlands, Wales and the south-west. Why does Crossrail not want to gain all the revenue from commuters travelling from Reading to the City of London, for whom this would still be a better service than going into Paddington and changing, either to the underground or to Crossrail itself? It is well known in transport circles that the fewer changes people have to make, the more likely they are to use public transport. Why make the journey more difficult for people than is necessary?

I recognise that people who have travelled long distances from areas significantly to the west of London are more likely to carry on into Paddington and transfer there, as they do now. I am sure, however, that there are many more in between who would come to Reading and transfer to Crossrail for the direct route into London and across to the Eurostar services that we shall soon have at Stratford. That will not happen if Maidenhead is Crossrail's western terminus.

It is even more disappointing because Reading people will lose out if the scheme does not come to Reading. Slots currently available to trains from Reading to the stations between Reading and Paddington will be lost, so as to provide services for Crossrail. Even more worrying are the recent reports in Rail Freight Group News—a well respected publication—that the Bill will allow Crossrail exclusive use of the two slow lines from Maidenhead to Paddington, leaving the InterCity 125, Virgin Rail, other slower passenger services and freight to operate on the fast lines—

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. What is worrying me is that the hon. Lady is now going a little too deeply into the contents of the Bill. We are debating a carry-over motion. I acknowledge that there can be some reference to the Bill in connection with the arguments for carry over or otherwise, but we cannot have a pseudo-Second Reading speech.

Photo of Ms Jane Griffiths Ms Jane Griffiths Labour, Reading East

I stand corrected, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall conclude my remarks. I support the carry-over motion and I hope that whoever succeeds me in this Chamber in the next Parliament works as hard as I have tried to do, and as my hon. Friends and other hon. Members have done, for Crossrail.

This is my last contribution in the House and I would like to thank Members on both sides of the Chamber for their friendship and support.

Photo of John Thurso John Thurso Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland) 2:20 pm, 7th April 2005

May I confirm the support for the motion of those on the Liberal Democrat Benches? The Minister mentioned the widespread support throughout London for the Crossrail project, particularly in the business community and elsewhere. This is an important scheme for the economic development of London, but it has already suffered from too many delays, not least under the last Government. Its progress should not be impeded at this stage; it is important that it should be carried forward.

In the House and elsewhere, particularly in the Greater London assembly, the Liberal Democrats have supported the principle for Crossrail. We are committed to it and we are pleased, therefore, that the Government intend to go ahead in the next Parliament. I hope they do so expeditiously.

Notwithstanding our support, there are areas of concern, although today is not the day for that debate, as you have rightly said, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should highlight one or two key issues, such as the funding package, getting an early start to the core section, whether Crossrail should be a discrete railway and the need for serious consideration of links between Stansted and Heathrow, as well as links further west, which Jane Griffiths mentioned. We should also examine the problem of trains coming up from the west country sharing the railway.

Photo of Mr Paul Tyler Mr Paul Tyler Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I strongly support the procedure of carry over. As the Minister will know, there was all-party support in the Modernisation Committee for it, in precisely the circumstances that are before the House this afternoon.

Can my hon. Friend give any indication, or has the Minister given him any indication, as to whether the capacity problem at Paddington will be addressed? One advantage of the carry over is that we will have more time to consider the issue. As things stand, there is already a capacity problem for lines and platforms, and, as my hon. Friend has already said, this could dramatically affect the mainline services from Cornwall and the far west.

Photo of John Thurso John Thurso Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland)

My hon. Friend raises one of the problems that I hope will be discussed in detail during the passage of the Bill. I am sure the Minister has noted those concerns, which I share. All those issues need to be dealt with during consideration of the Bill, but today it is important that the carry-over motion be passed. I shall certainly support it.

Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington 2:24 pm, 7th April 2005

I support the carry-over motion, very straightforwardly, because if it is not passed a number of companies in my constituency will face further prolongation of the blight on the development of their operations. To name just two, Leemark Engineering and HG Timber have been told that Crossrail will be taking some of their land, which will prevent them from implementing their expansion plans, and therefore prevent them from increasing employment among my constituents. Any further delay will not only prevent the future planning of their businesses, but have an overall impact on the confidence in my constituency in relation to future investment by businesses.

The carry-over motion is important and I support it, but it is more important that we bring the Bill forward very quickly after the election. In addition, we must bring it forward with guaranteed security of funding. We cannot allow this to remain as speculation. In that case, many of us will campaign during the general election to secure that commitment from the Government. After getting on for 20 years of discussion of Crossrail, we cannot again allow the issue to continue to blight the lives of many of our constituents.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Shadow Minister, Shadow Minister (London) 2:25 pm, 7th April 2005

May I first say a few words about Jane Griffiths? She said that this is her swansong in the House. I am a Reading boy, and I narrowly missed the Conservative nomination for Reading, East in 1997. I would have ended up being the losing candidate against her, so it is probably just as well that things worked out as they did. She has been a fine servant to the House.

May I also say a few words about Linda Perham, who may or may not return to the House? That may apply to me; I am taking nothing for granted in this election. She has played a tremendous role in the all-party group on Crossrail, but I want to pay a personal tribute to her. I am a London Member of Parliament and we have worked and spoken together on a number of issues. We are in the middle of an election campaign, but I know that her Conservative opponent, Lee Scott, is an extremely strong admirer of all the work she does. The people of Ilford, North have been well served over the last eight years, and I hope they continue to be well served—perhaps under different colours—in the years ahead.

Like other Members, I support the carry-over motion, and I support Crossrail very firmly. There is little doubt that it is essential to London's future competitiveness and growth. In many ways, the biggest threat to the competitiveness of the capital is our transport system. All business regards this as the single most important issue that faces London and it is important that we have proper investment of the £10 billion, and rising, across London's transport system over the next few years. Obviously, Crossrail should be part and parcel of that.

I endorse the words of John McDonnell, who is absolutely right that we need to get the funding together, but we must ask, "Where is the money?" On one level, one might say that it is the height of political cynicism for the Government to have talked the project up in the way that they have in the last year or so. They have talked about the green light being given to Crossrail when little more than a flickering amber light has been given.

I accept that my party pulled the plug on the project over a decade ago when we were in government, but equally, here we are just before a general election, desperately in need of this investment. It is of national, and indeed international, importance that London and the London region have that investment. The Government must lead the way with their financing, because we cannot carry on taking London's continued economic success for granted.

If I may, I shall finish with a few words on some local concerns over the route. In Mayfair, for example, there is a grave concern that, although three routes were proposed, the Government seem to be running with a consortium with a single route only. I would like to know why other routes were not considered in more detail. I hope that we will have an opportunity on Second Reading, after the election, to explore this a great deal further. There is little doubt, particularly without the finance being in place, that there is a blight on many tens of thousands of my constituents in Westminster, and I suspect on hundreds of thousands of constituents in London and beyond. The same applies to parts of Bayswater and the City of London.

I support the carry-over motion, not least, as the Minister rightly pointed out, owing to the fact that the cost of petitions and all the preliminary work would be wasted if we had to revisit all this. I hope that on Second Reading we shall have a robust debate about the management of the issue and of the route, because the uncertainty is the worst thing for the ongoing blight that affects not only the residential population, but the businesses on which we rely in this country.

Photo of Ms Linda Perham Ms Linda Perham Labour, Ilford North 2:28 pm, 7th April 2005

Today's carry-over motion is vital, because it will allow the Crossrail Bill to be suspended until the new Parliament commences. I cannot overemphasise the importance of ensuring that this momentum is maintained and that Second Reading take place as soon as possible in the new Session.

I commend the support that the Crossrail project has throughout the country and throughout the House, as well as in the business community, which is also anxious that the project go ahead and that the motion allow us not to lose any time with the project going forward.

I thank my hon. Friend Jane Griffiths for her support for the project and her kind words. I also thank Mr. Field for his kind words about my role as chair of the all-party Crossrail group. We have worked hard to support the project, and all the group's members support the carry-over motion.

Everyone knows about Crossrail's benefits for London—they have been well rehearsed. It is essential that the project go forward because of the contribution it will make to the economy, adding £19 billion to the UK's GDP and creating 120,000 jobs in London alone. In addition, the 13 construction contracts are worth about £300 million each. The benefits to east London are also well known. Those of us who represent that part of London believe that the area needs more investment and regeneration.

Hon. Members have asked about funding and the Minister mentioned the £10 billion price tag. Finance and funding are matters that carrying over the Bill will allow us to address in the new Parliament, and I am sure that those issues will be discussed and ironed out come the summer. However, questions about funding should not take priority over passing the carry-over motion.

As my hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn said, we hope that Second Reading will be scheduled to take place as soon as possible after in the new Parliament. I am sure that the Minister supports our aim of getting the usual channels to allow that to happen.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:31 pm, 7th April 2005

It will not have escaped your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I am the only Member seeking to catch your eye who does not represent a London or south-east constituency. I have a confession to make: I woke up to Crossrail a bit too late, although I have always supported the project in principle. I remind the House that there is nothing new about Crossrail: the first such services operated in about 1860, when trains on the Great Western main line went through to Farringdon on what are now the Metropolitan and Circle lines. Sadly we lost the service at some point in the late 19th century—

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

I think it predates that. However, there is nothing new about Crossrail, which is a thoroughly good idea in principle. The trouble is that the proposal is not only about London. That is why the carry-over motion must be carefully considered. Is this the right Bill to carry over?

In principle, I entirely buy into improving London transport services. As one who spends most of his working life in London, I can see the need to do that.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

My hon. Friend says that he buys into that, but no one else has.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

My right hon. Friend takes me to task for my characteristically lax use of language—something of which he is never guilty—and makes a powerful point about the problems that have been highlighted during this debate. I concur with him on that point.

The Bill as drafted has several drawbacks and I am not at all sure that it is the right Bill to carry over. The first drawback is that it appears to give a lot of power to the Mayor of London. I understand that, earlier today, as part of the deal done on the Railways Bill, some of the powers that that Bill would have given the Mayor were removed. I am not sure that services running to the west of London, which will have a serious impact on the Great Western main line, should be handed into the power of the Mayor of London.

Secondly, I am concerned about the Bill's long title, which states that the Bill is to

"Make provision for a railway transport system running from Maidenhead".

I like Maidenhead a lot. My family has strong links with the town and my great-great-great-great uncle was mayor of Maidenhead in the 18th century, so I am delighted that it is to have a wonderful new railway service—but that service should go to Reading, as Jane Griffiths said. At this point, may I say that I agree with everything that my hon. Friend Mr. Field said about the hon. Lady? I wish her every happiness in the future. She has been a fine Member of Parliament and has made a fine contribution to our proceedings. She will be sorely missed.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

Yes, but not on that point, I hope.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

The Worcester-Maidenhead axis is interesting, but does the hon. Gentleman accept that even the people of Worcester would benefit from a Crossrail connection, which would mean that trains could go under London and people would not have to change services? Everyone would be helped if there were a new railway line that everyone could use.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

Sadly, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong. He draws me on to the constituency point I wish to raise in connection with the Bill and the reason why I have reservations about carrying it over. It was alluded to by Mr. Tyler in what will probably be his last intervention as a Member of Parliament. He is an old friend of mine—I was his boss once and he mine, and we go back a long way. It therefore grieves me to have to draw the House's attention to the fact that he was slightly wrong. In fact, although the Bill as drafted will increase track and platform capacity at Paddington station, it will reduce capacity on the lines into Paddington. That is the crucial point.

I am working hard to improve services from my constituency to London on the Great Western and Cotswold lines. I want an hourly Adelante service instead of the present rather patchy service. I think that the Bill that we are being invited to carry over will result in the two relief lines—those on the left going to London—being devoted exclusively to Crossrail services, leaving only the two existing main lines to and from Paddington for all the other railway services out of Paddington. I am therefore seriously concerned that, if we carry it over, the Bill will frustrate the ambitions of my constituents—and those of the Clerk at the Table, who is a Hereford man and would therefore benefit from improved services through to Herefordshire. I think he missed that observation, but I am sure he will read it in Hansard tomorrow.

The regulatory impact assessment for the Bill—I am grateful to the official who e-mailed it to me this morning—is focused entirely on the benefits to London. Yes, there are benefits to London, but the document contains no assessment of the impact on services beyond London. That worries me greatly.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

I was hoping to draw my remarks to a conclusion, but I shall give way first to my—for the present purposes—hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Paul Tyler Mr Paul Tyler Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to make another intervention. Does he not agree that carrying over the Bill creates the opportunity for the concerns that he and I have expressed this afternoon to be properly examined, unlike the alternative of pushing it though at speed today?

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

That is a very good point. My concern about that suggestion is that the Bill refers specifically to Maidenhead and those who know the workings of the railway services between London, Reading and the west know that Maidenhead is a very odd place to terminate services and that making it the terminus could have serious implications for the management of the railways. Although I support Crossrail in principle, I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure me that the Bill, even as drafted, does not preclude an extension of Crossrail services to Reading, which is what one of the consortiums—Superlink, I believe—proposes.

Photo of Ms Linda Perham Ms Linda Perham Labour, Ilford North

I know that the hon. Gentleman is focusing on constituency concerns, but does he accept that if the Bill is not carried over, we lose the opportunity to make progress on the project, which has already been delayed? In addition, will he consider London's position as an international financial centre and the benefits that flow from it? If Crossrail is not implemented, the future of London and the UK economy will be seriously threatened.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

I am extremely conscious, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that if I respond fully to the interventions, I shall be in danger of making a Second Reading speech, whereas I wanted to explain briefly why I had reservations about the Bill being carried over. To be honest, I think it should be carried over—

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

Because I am a reasonable man. If I receive the reassurances I seek, I think that, for the reasons just given by Linda Perham, we should accede to the motion.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State, Department for Transport

Bearing in mind that I might not have a chance to respond to the debate, let me say that Cross London Rail Links, which came up with the original business case, suggested Maidenhead and all the consultation was done on that basis. Not least because of the efforts of my hon. Friend Jane Griffiths, we looked at the virtues of a Maidenhead-Reading route, but we were unable to do that because by that time the route had almost been locked down to the existing one. However, we have said since the Bill was published that we will consult on safeguarding the Maidenhead-Reading route, perhaps as a prelude to including it when the Bill has passed. The issue therefore remains live, not least because of my hon. Friend's endeavours.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

That is a genuinely helpful intervention, and I shall conclude very shortly, as I appreciate what the Minister has said. However, if the carry-over is agreed today—that will obviously happen—the Committee that considers the Bill must look carefully at capacity issues for the west country, Wales, Oxfordshire, Wales, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. I fear that trying to fit all the freight and passenger services into those two railway lines could have serious consequences. The significant sums that the railway would cost would be better spent on other enhancements to the rail network, such as upgrading the entire line to the west country and Cornwall, a sadly neglected corner in the economic development of our nation. That is certainly the view of the west London branch of Friends of the Earth.

In conclusion, if the Bill is carried over, we must be careful not to carry over a measure that could undermine significantly the transport interests of my constituents and many other people to the west of London.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington 2:40 pm, 7th April 2005

I support Crossrail and the carry-over of the Bill. We in the east end of London have long looked forward to the completion of Crossrail, which will do an enormous amount for regeneration and job creation in our area. We have had to wait 15 years or more, and we do not want any more undue delay. Even today, we can read on the front pages of London's local papers news of a serious drive-by shooting that affected the Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, my hon. Friend Mr. Lammy. The jobs and regeneration that Crossrail will bring will be important in the fight against crime and social alienation.

I congratulate my colleague, the Mayor of London, on fighting a hard campaign to bring Crossrail into existence. I join hon. Members who have urged us to support the carry-over motion and to introduce the Bill early in the next Parliament along with concrete proposals for funding the line. I congratulate my hon. Friend Jane Griffiths on her last speech in this Parliament. She entered the House in the great landslide of 1997 and, although she is stepping down at the election, she has played her part in ensuring that we will win an historic third term. Finally, I would like the Bill to be carried over and speedy progress to be made on Crossrail because the next step is Crossrail 2, which will enable people to travel in splendour from the historic delights of Dalston all the way to Chelsea.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North 2:41 pm, 7th April 2005

Like other hon. Members, I shall be brief in my support for the carry-over motion, which is essential if we are to make rapid progress in the next Parliament on securing funding for the scheme. To some extent, I agree with hon. Members that, while the Bill is important in putting such provisions into law, we also need an agreement on funding and the cost of the project. Costs are already high. If Mr. Kiley's figure are correct, they are already £14 billion to £15 billion. By the time Crossrail is built, they will be considerably more, because inflation will have increased. We therefore need an agreement on funding and, like many other candidates in the election, I support the scheme and the funding that it requires.

May I draw the Minister's attention to the points made by my hon. Friend John McDonnell about blight compensation? The line does not go through my constituency, and impinges only on the southern part of my borough but, because it is a massive scheme, it has an impact on everyone in London and could lead to incredible improvements in transport infrastructure. However, blight is a huge factor in long-term planning issues. Businesses and landowners around Heathrow terminal 5 have been given blight compensation from the beginning of that scheme. Unfortunately, people in the path of the Crossrail development, even if they support it, will not have their land purchased under compulsory purchase orders and will not receive compensation in the period in which it fails to go ahead. The planning process would be encouraged if blight compensation were paid from the beginning of such schemes, as that would provide an incentive for promoters, whether in the public or private sector, to develop them as quickly as possible.

Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To clarify the point about the development of the third runway at Heathrow and other airport expansion schemes, the proposals for the blight compensation scheme are currently subject to consultation and discussion. However, my hon. Friend is correct that there is a legal duty on the British Airports Authority, working with the Government, to offer blight compensation, which could readily be transferred to other schemes to provide security for long-term planning processes.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

I endorse my hon. Friend's clarification, and thank him for it. I hope that the Minister has heard what we are saying and recognises that, while supporters of Crossrail want it to proceed to completion, we also want to ensure that the blight problem does not go on forever.

I have no concerns about the involvement of the Greater London authority and the Mayor and London. Quite the opposite—I have every confidence in them, because the devolution of planning and transport matters means that they should have that involvement and planning power. Without the effective voice for London that is projected by the Mayor and the Assembly, schemes such as Crossrail would be a lot further behind.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

Does my hon. Friend agree that far from being concerned about the Mayor's involvement in the scheme, we should accept that that involvement gives rise to confidence? People should not quibble about his involvement, as he should have greater powers, particularly over transport in the south-east of England.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

I could not agree more. If people had listened to the Mayor of London about the regeneration of the tube, we would have a bond issue rather than a public-private partnership and a great deal of public money would have been saved. I think that everybody now accepts that, and I hope that Crossrail can be similarly funded, as that will turn out to be a great deal cheaper.

Mr. Luff made some legitimate points about the rail network beyond London and the impact of Crossrail. Clearly, the constrictions on the Paddington line require a great deal of examination—that is a perfectly fair and reasonable point. He will accept, however, that by developing Crossrail we encourage overall rail traffic usage, which has a knock-on effect on the rest of the system. I am sure that he will join me in wanting to secure both the reopening of the line between Worcester and Cheltenham and the twin-tracking of the Honeybourne line through the Cotswolds.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons)

I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman's knowledge of my constituency. The line between Worcester and Cheltenham is already open, but he is right about the twin tracking. I agree that Crossrail will make travel in the south-east more attractive, and even more people will travel from the areas served at present by Paddington beyond Reading. We must therefore make sure that capacity issues are thoroughly addressed on the Great Western main line.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

It is only the one-hour limit on our debate and the imminent dissolution of Parliament that prevents me from talking at greater length about the number of disused lines around the country.

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. It is not only the imminent dissolution of Parliament. The Chair has a certain interest in applying the Standing Orders.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

I am tempted to discuss disused lines in a wider sense, but I accept the point that you are making, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The subject will have to wait for another day.

I strongly support the carry-over motion. I hope that it is agreed—I am sure that it will be—and that we secure the money for the line, leading to the continued regeneration and renaissance of the rail network.

In conclusion, it is only fitting that I thank my hon. Friend Linda Perham for her effective lobbying on Crossrail in the House, the Labour party and many other groups, including the trade union network, in which she and I are both active. I thank, too, my hon. Friend Jane Griffiths, who has just made her last speech in the House. She has been a great campaigner for improvements to public transport and rail connections to Reading, and we should acknowledge that.

Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South 2:48 pm, 7th April 2005

May I begin by paying tribute to Members who have campaigned for many years for Crossrail, particularly my colleague, friend and neighbour, Linda Perham? I first came to the House in 1992, and as a prospective candidate I remember producing leaflets in 1990 calling for the introduction of Crossrail. I put questions to a succession of Ministers from different Governments from 1992 onwards, but I did not get very far.

I am therefore delighted by the opportunity now afforded us. There was an exhibition in the centre of Ilford a few weeks ago allowing my constituents to look at maps and designs as well as the detail of the proposals. They could see that in my constituency more stations are affected by Crossrail than in any other constituency. The platforms at Ilford station will have to be extended, and Seven Kings and Goodmayes stations will also be affected. Just outside my constituency, Chadwell Heath station will be affected. There is also the loop allowing freight trains to pass passenger trains. There is only one loop on the Crossrail route, and it is in my constituency.

Many of my constituents will therefore be very concerned about the engineering work that will be done from 2006 onwards if the timetable is met, as many people will be affected by a lot of noise, lorries and other vehicles, and by waste being taken away. That will directly affect my constituents in Fenman Gardens in Goodmayes just a few yards away from where the works will be. This is a question not only of commercial blight, but of blight on people's homes and the areas where they live. That is why we cannot have a delay. We must carry over the Bill, bring it forward in the new Parliament as quickly possible and give the reassurance that there will not be further delay, uncertainty and difficulty for many thousands of people, including hundreds of my constituents.

I welcome the fact that we are carrying the Bill over, and I conclude by again paying tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North, the chair of the Crossrail group. I look forward to working with her in the coming Parliament, when she is re-elected to her seat.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst 2:51 pm, 7th April 2005

This is one of those bizarre, virtual reality occasions on which the Minister tells us that the matter has been worked on for so long and that we now have such great detail that we can do nothing other than carry things forward, as wasting all that work would be a tragedy. That is how the Minister set out the matter to us, making the case for this very dubious procedure of carry-over. Immediately afterwards, Member after Member said "Hold on a minute" and suggested that the route should go in a different direction, referred to a capacity problem at Paddington, said that the line should or should not go through their constituency or asked about funding.

All the careful work that has been done by the thousands of dedicated people to whom the Minister so lovingly referred appears to be not only incomplete, but pathetically misdirected and inconclusive. Why is he trying to con the House into carrying over an incomplete piece of work that has already been in gestation for many years, as we have repeatedly been told, in the expectation that after an election, perhaps regardless of who is returned to Government, it will all suddenly be resolved quickly and expeditiously—something for which Member after Member has pleaded to the House?

I cannot see any reality in that argument at all. That is not unusual for this place—this is a palace of dreams and wishes, as we know—but this is a particularly egregious example of such a debate and occasion. We are all congratulating one another and saying what a wonderful project is involved, but saying almost in the same breath that it is misconstrued and incomplete, and that we have no idea where the funding will come from. On that basis, I should have thought that it would be beneficial if we started all over again. If we did not carry forward this incomplete and rather pathetic piece of work, we could ask the new Parliament—it will, after all, be full of thrusting new Members with exciting new ideas and hopefully many new Ministers as well—to do the job properly. It could take into consideration the points made by the Members present today and perhaps come up with something much more viable and useful. In other words, carry-over would probably be the worst thing to do in this case. A fresh outlook with fresh minds and initiatives would be by far the best.

Photo of Martin Salter Martin Salter Labour, Reading West

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

I shall give way to the newly arrived Member, who has heard nothing of the debate so far.

Photo of Martin Salter Martin Salter Labour, Reading West

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I have spent an awful lot of time working on the Crossrail issue. Is he proposing to divide the House on carrying over the Bill, because it would be very convenient for us if he was?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

The hon. Gentleman may have put in a lot of work, but not today. We have all been here working for almost an hour, but he has just wandered into the Chamber.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Secretary of State (Justice), Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

As somebody who was born and brought up in Reading, may I ask my right hon. Friend to join me in recognising that it is Jane Griffiths, who has been present throughout the debate and who has done a great deal on this issue?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

Sadly, I have no connections with Reading whatever, and absolutely none with Mr. Salter, I am very pleased to say.

Rushing into a carry-over on this Bill would probably be completely the wrong thing to do, but I will not be surprised if the House does it anyway.

Question put and agreed to.


That further proceedings on the Crossrail Bill shall be suspended until the next Session of Parliament.

That if a Bill is presented in the next Session in the same terms as the Crossrail Bill when it was presented in this Session—

(a) the Bill shall be ordered to be printed and shall be deemed to have been read the first time; and

(b) the Standing Orders of the House applicable to the Bill, so far as complied with or dispensed with in this Session, shall be deemed to have been complied with or (as the case may be) dispensed with in the next Session;

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.